By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"Can I rub your tummy for luck?" asks the gorgeous dime-piece before me in the lounge of the James Hotel's J Bar in Scottsdale, her smooth skin the color of Ghirardelli chocolate. As her hands are already caressing my abdominal protuberance, I figure it's best to reply in the affirmative.
"Uh, by all means," I state, as she pats my paunch like it's that of a plump jade Buddha in a Chinese curio shop.
"Here, let me kiss it, too," and she lays one on me, right about where my pothole-like belly button lies beneath my triple-XL cocktail shirt. Her name's Erica, and I know she's just playing, but damn it, let a fat man dream, y'all! Jett's been in the ladies' room nearby, losing some excess J Bar martinis. And that's when I bump into the enticing Erica amongst the booful people kickin' it in the James' lounge-like waterin' hole.
It's 11 on a Saturday night, and the spot's tight with bodies, most standing, some eased into the low chairs and couches before the gleaming bar. The crowd's spillin' out onto a patio to the right, and into the hotel's chic lobby to the left. Up above us all is a big screen showing, for some inexplicable reason, a boring-ass documentary. But that's okay, because folks at the J Bar are too into eyeing each other to pay much attention to anything else.
"Are you a model?" I query Erica Eyecandy.
"No, I work for a living," she sighs. "I'm a server at a restaurant in the Four Seasons, actually."
"I can't believe it," I say, mock-shocked. "You're not a kept woman? You don't have a retinue of servants tending to your every need?"
She flashes me a smile that'd melt platinum. "You could be one of my servants if you want," she tells me, laughing. I try to stay on track with this interview, but honestly, this chica is finer than Amerie, Brandy and Ciara combined. It's all I can do to keep from jabbering incoherently like a two-ton Ozzy Osbourne . . .
"I already am, your servant, that is," I say, grinning. "So what are you doing here tonight?"
"I come here to visit friends. I have friends who work for the bar, and there are always cool people here," she replies.
I suddenly remember that the Jettster left her purse with me and I'm holding it in my hand like I'm the freakin' Queen of England. Aaaah! I switch it behind my back as I continue conversatin' with the alluring Erica. I'm gonna clobber Jett if she ever returns.
"Yeah, people seem very chill here. How would you respond to the haters who think everyone at the J Bar is snooty?"
"I love Scottsdale for that reason," she explains. "There's nothing wrong with being snooty. There's nothing wrong with knowing that you're prettier than other people. You have to recognize your own flawlessness, and have other people recognize it, too."
"Thanks for holding my handbag, Kreme," Jett announces loudly as I grit my teeth. "Who's the babe?"
I make the introductions, but Erica has to bounce, and leaves me alone with the J-girl. I'm ready to wrap my hands around her neck.
"Let's get another drink before I kill you," I tell her.
"Who pissed in your Frosted Flakes?"
"You and your effin' purse," I grumble, as I signal the barkeep to set us up with two vodka-Red Bulls. "I'm not holding that shit again for you."
"Ease up, pardner. After all, who showed you the back way into this joint?"
I have to admit she's right. Out front of the James was a doorman and a line to get in, but we blew all that off by going 'round back and up the ramp to the J Bar's rear patio. Reminded of this, I reluctantly decide to let the bi-Ashlee Simpson live.
We snag our drinks, which are mostly vodka with a splash of energy drink for flava. We'd started off with a couple of the J Bar's $10 martinis, but then switched over to our old reliable libation. As we guzzle, the Jettster nudges me about a nearby couple, a tall Caucasian dood, and his companion, a petite Asian beauty in a shoulderless, turquoise-print dress. Her name is Vivian Dao. His is Jeff Blankenship. And this is their first date.
"I think it's going pretty well," he remarks of the date, as the Jettster hijacks Dao and drags her off to the side to compare designer purses.
"This is one of the top 20 most fashionable handbags," I hear Dao telling Jett, as the J-doggie-dawg oohs appreciatively, admiring more than just Dao's purse.
"So, Jeff, what do you do for a living?" I ask.
"Gay porn," he replies with an almost straight face. "So I got that going for me, which is nice."
"In case your stock portfolio tanks?" I wonder.
"Yep, then I've got a backup," he grins, joshing me. "It pays well, and I'm always up for it."